Book Review: Son of Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald

Son of Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Son of Fletch Book Cover Son of Fletch
Fletch #10 (in the stories' chronological order #10); Son of Fletch #1
Fiction; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
1993; ebook: April 19, 2010
e-book
241

Fletch has a son. He's a convict, a racist, a hate group organizer, and he's on the run after a prison break. Will Fletch help him out?

Plot

It was a dark and stormy night…

In eleven novels in the series, one of them was bound to start off like this, in a sense. Like most in the Fletch series, the story is off like a shot from the beginning, but then just a tad into the first act there’s another huge plot point (suggested by the title of the book) or known by the close reader who remembers Crystal Faoni who was a major (large?) character from Fletch’s Fortune.

I don’t know that I believed the convicts just taking Fletch’s word for where to hide out at the time, in part because the character development to make it plausible didn’t come until later. There was also a plot point involving the sheriff that I saw coming from a mile away that could/should have been much more subtle for a bigger surprise when it was revealed.

My biggest problem was that after some great build up I was expecting something really big or interesting from either Fletch or his son to close out the whole story. Sadly the end of the plot devolved in too quick and short a manner for a really satisfying pay off.

Of all of the Fletch books, so far this one seems to be the biggest influencer for the creation of portions of the movie Fletch Lives, which was otherwise made out of whole cloth based on the character. In some sense Cleavon Little’s character “Calculus Entropy” replaced Fletch’s son and big parts of the plot were heavily rewritten purely for entertainment’s sake.

Of all of the books which mention the seemingly ever-present Edward Arthur Tharp, Jr., this one seems to have more detail about it, particularly as in this story the book has finally been finished and it becomes a method by which Fletch and his son seem to probe each other about it. Oddly there was no mention or parallel between Fletch’s own mother as a writer and his having become a writer.

Character

Fletch’s girlfriend in this piece serves as pure plot and didn’t feel as multi-dimensional as she should have been given her role in the piece. She does serve well as the “better angel” as well as the gut reaction most readers will also be feeling through the story. But as always, one must just “trust” Fletch and his plan of where he’s going, even if he’s not sure himself.

Fletch himself seems to be much the same as we remember him, though I really wonder how and why he seems to have settled down into small town Tennessee life. Descriptions in the book make it sound like he’s still a man of the world, but somehow interesting people come to him instead of him going to see them. None of this really fits into the bigger character to me, but the story continues as if it doesn’t matter anyway.

Fletch’s son plays things very close to the vest, so his motivations and character aren’t really developed until much later in the piece, but in some sense he’s at least differentiated well enough from Fletch to be his “own man” here.

I liked that even the racists here were given some well done characterization so that despite their beliefs that one could actually feel bad for them in some sense. I will say it was relatively interesting to read in the timeperiod of the 2016 presidential election.

Summary

Overall this was a middle-of-the-road Fletch installment. (But still ranks relatively high on the mystery/suspense/detective genres). I suspect that it would have been more interesting to Fletch fans who hadn’t had an installment in a few years based on the time it was released. For a potential reboot of the series, or for kicking off a new series, it wasn’t a bad effort.

Reading Progress
  • 08/7/16 marked as: want to read; “The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series.”
  • 11/26/16 started reading
  • 11/26/16 13.0% done; “Fletch has a son. He’s a convict and he’s on the run after a prison break. Will Fletch help him out?”
  • 11/28/16 25.0% done; “We’re off like a shot. Somehow it doesn’t seem terrifically believable that the escape convicts so easily take Fletch’s advice on where to hide, but he does a fantastic job of coralling them in the opeining.
    Some of the overt “Southernness” feels overdone to me, but perhaps it was the effect of Mcdonald’s many years living in Tennessee which had a tarnishing effect.”
  • 11/29/16 57.0% done; “We’re starting to go somewhere, but I can sadly already almost predict the ending. In particular, there was a ham-handed mention of a car that gave the whole thing away for me.
    Of all of the Fletch books, so far this one seems to be the biggest influencer for the creation of portions of the movie Fletch Lives, which was otherwise made out of whole cloth based on the character.”
  • 12/1/16 64.0% done; “This is where things begin to go sideways! Here comes the third act… Much of what I anticipated was going to happen has; the question now is how will he manage to extract himself (and his friends/family)?”
  • 12/03/16 Finished book

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

“Some villains decided to take themselves a little vacation from the federal penitentiary up in Kentucky, Carrie.”
“Can’t blame ‘em,” Fletch said. “We’ve been advertising Tennessee as a vacation spot. Take yourselves off to Tennessee. Isn’t that the slogan?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 44-46

Added on Saturday, November 26, 2016 10:47:45 PM

“Mister Fletcher. Miss Carrie.”
“Howdy, Sheriff,” Carrie said.
“Don’t Francie let you take a shower-bath at home anymore?”
“Says I keep leavin’ wet towels on the bathroom floor. So she sends me out every time there’s a hard rain.

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Added on Saturday, November 26, 2016 10:47:59 PM

A few months before, two of the county’s cars had smashed into each other, in a parking lot.

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Poor storytelling form here.

Added on Saturday, November 26, 2016 10:51:46 PM

“I don’t have a gun,” Carrie said. “What do I do if the wolf comes by?”
“What you charmin’ Tennesseans always do.”
“What’s that?”
“Say, ‘Hydy, Mister Wolf. How’s your pa?’”
“Which paw will I be askin’ about in this case? Right, left, front, back?”

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Added on Saturday, November 26, 2016 10:53:09 PM

At first Fletch saw only the back of a soaking wet, lean male in his early twenties. The back of his denim shirt had stitched on it FEDERAL PENITENTIARY/TOMASTON. Fletch tisked. “You kids. You can’t wear anything without some sort of an advertisement or a slogan on it. Wouldn’t the usual beer logo or ‘YALE’ do just as well?”

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Added on Saturday, November 26, 2016 10:59:30 PM

“It’s like being a beautician in the land of the ugly!”

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Added on Saturday, November 26, 2016 11:26:14 PM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 537
Added on Sunday, November 27, 2016 11:50:34 PM

“Idea is, they could have Ms. Carrie hostage in one room while you’re sweet-talkin’ us.” “Me? Sweet-talk anybody?” Fletch grinned. “I understand.”

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Added on Sunday, November 27, 2016 11:51:44 PM

“You got any of those Tharp paintings, Mister Fletcher?” “No. I guess I ran the price of them up too high for me to afford ‘em.”

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Added on Sunday, November 27, 2016 11:52:12 PM

In this life, who are the bastards?” Jack muttered, “The fathers, or the sons?”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:01:53 AM

“You escaped from a maximum-security federal penitentiary after only five weeks?”
“I didn’t like it there,” Jack said. “Noisy. Food could have been better. I’d read all the books in the library.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:02:55 AM

Ever since you wrote the book Pinto: The Biography of Edgar Arthur Tharp, Junior. That was a big success, wasn’t it?”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:04:44 AM

“Big book,” Jack said. Fletch said, “It took a while.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:05:15 AM

“You believe in straight lines, don’t you?”
“Nature does not love the straight line,” Fletch said. “Man is compelled to it.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:08:03 AM

People here don’t really, really believe frogs drop from the sky in a hard rain.

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:11:08 AM

“I could sit here forever,” Carrie said, “feeling you inside me. What would you do if I sat here forever?” On his back, Fletch shrugged. “Send out for Chinese, I guess.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:13:45 AM

“Everything all right?” she asked. “All things being relative.”

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Ha! Relative. Nice double entendre.

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:14:46 AM

“E=MC2!” Such was Carrie’s expletive. She considered the theory of relativity the most outlandish thing she had ever heard of.

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 12:17:26 AM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 910
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 2:06:45 AM

good, Fletch.

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 2:10:25 AM

Turning, Kriegel went to Jack and clasped him by the shoulders. “This man is your father! Why didn’t you tell me? He is one of us! We are saved!” “Praise the Lord,” Fletch said.

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 2:12:50 AM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 1003
Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 2:23:23 AM

Kriegel took a few steps toward Carrie and Fletch. It seemed his intent to take them by the hands. Fletch stuck his hands in the pockets of his shorts.

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 7:51:05 PM

“Shit,” she said. “He’s your son, all right. Clear as a church bell on a crisp night. He’s got your body.” “Oh, don’t say that,” Fletch said. “Last time someone said that about me and someone else, one of us got shot through a window.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 7:52:34 PM

“You going to get married?” “These days you marry a woman and two lawyers. Beds just aren’t that big.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 7:57:47 PM

“Hey.” Jack trotted behind the horse. “You’re riding a horse barebacked in shorts.” “Yeah,” Fletch said. “Just like a Native American.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 8:17:39 PM

“Ah, Fletch. Don’t think of yourself as a Yankee anymore. You’re about gettin’ over it.”

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Like it was a disease

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 8:32:04 PM

Jack had been amazed to see Fletch come out of the henhouse carrying eleven eggs. “Wow!” he said. “You make your own eggs!” Then he said, “They’re dirty!” Fletch said, “You think they were hatched already scrambled with milk and butter?” Jack grinned. “I was hatched sunnyside up, I was.” “I see,” Fletch said. “So you scrambled yourself.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 8:33:12 PM

“For a guitar picker, you sure know some different scales.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 8:55:04 PM

Having been a print journalist, and someone who had written a book, Fletch persisted in believing there was not much future in electronics, generally.

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But what about his technology platform in the prior book (Fletch and the Man Who)?

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:00:35 PM

We’re as slick as a boxer after the tenth round.”

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should have been noting these. this is the 20th of these goofy similies…

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:12:36 PM

“Describe him.” “Hispanic.” “I’m prepared to call that a good arrest, aren’t you?” “Absolutely.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:14:19 PM

One way and another, Fletch had learned the importance of creating a diversion.

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:14:59 PM

Arms akimbo, Carrie said, “What are you? Only God and you know that, and I suspect you’re confused.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:17:38 PM

“Besides,” Carrie answered in a milder tone, “generally, Fletch doesn’t hold much stock in simple questions. He says, when you ask a question all you get is an answer to the question, not the truth. He says, to get the truth it’s best to wait and watch and listen.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:19:58 PM

“Oh, yes,” Carrie said. “Fletch calls you the tactile generation. For short, he calls you the scabpickers. What you know, what you do isn’t important, only what you feel.

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:21:24 PM

By golly, Ms.

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Consistency of chapter opens?

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:26:55 PM

“All three hundred and fifty pounds of white and naked flab you all call Leary is dead to the world out on the back lawn,” Fletch said. “I swear, if we drag him down to the roadside, the slaughter truck will pick him up for the glue factory without even stopping to ask which nature of beast he is.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:28:48 PM

apolitical

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:31:49 PM

“Come, come,” Fletch said. “Jack and I will be with you. What have you to fear? You know Jack is a karate expert. And I? Don’t even ask. Never have I met man or beast to make me tremble in nose or lip.”

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I love the stilted language here to poke fun of the racist

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:35:15 PM

Pity if you escaped prison just for a zoological experience in a ditch.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:36:00 PM

If biff came to bang, Fletch would be interested to see what John Fletcher Faoni would do.

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:36:18 PM

“Yes, I see,” Kriegel said. “Wasn’t it Julius Caesar,” Fletch asked, “who said something about divide and skinny through?” “He said, ‘All roads lead to Rome.’” “That, too,” Fletch agreed. “Quite a phrasemaker, that Caesar feller. I knew you know your military history.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:37:18 PM

stanchions

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:40:25 PM

Fletch shouted at Leary, “Now, hold on to that little cow!” Standing, with his feet spread, Leary grabbed the bull calf’s tail. As Carrie started the truck down the driveway, Leary’s boots slipped in wet manure already on the floor of the pickup truck’s bed. He landed on his ass. On the manure. Both his hands still held on to the bull calf’s tail. “Hold on to it!” Fletch ordered. “It’s shittin’ on me!” Leary yelled halfway down the driveway. It certainly was.

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:41:31 PM

Then Fletch watched Jack choking with laughter. “Oh, hello.” Fletch slapped Jack on the back. “How are you feeling?”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:43:13 PM

Jack smiled. “Shall I sing a few bars of ‘Let the Punishment Fit the Crime’?”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:44:52 PM

Jack said, “I’m amazed at the way you have kept us all weak, incapacitated.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:45:37 PM

In the backseat, blinking slowly, Kriegel was waking up. The guitar was propped up on the seat beside him. Their shapes were similar. The guitar had the more attractive neck.

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awesome description

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:47:33 PM

Kriegel asked, “Who is this Professor Josiah Black?” Neither Fletch nor Jack answered. Kriegel insisted. “What did you mean by ‘Josiah Black’?” Fletch did not answer. “It comes from an old American song, sir,” Jack answered. “What’s the name of the song?” Jack said, “‘Ol’ Black Joe.”’ “‘Ol’ Black Joe’?” Kriegel spluttered. “You called me an old, black Joe? Is that supposed to be funny?” “I had to tell him something, didn’t I?” Fletch asked. “Couldn’t say you are Santa Claus now, could I?”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:52:48 PM

“I mean, don’t you realize you are the most despised person on earth?” “Who, me?” “You are the intelligent, educated to some degree, I gather, well-off, middle-aged, heterosexual white male. On this earth, you are distinctly the minority. Yet you and your kind have made the world, as we know it, what it is. For centuries, you have created the religious and political institutions, the businesses, the wars, laws that protect and suit you to the exclusion of others, while exploiting all people of color, Indians, Negroids, Orientals, even those less fortunate than yourself of the same tribe, the laborers, as well as all women and children.” “Wow.” Fletch well knew these sentiments. He had been confronted with such often enough. “And all this time I thought I was just gettin’ along best I could.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:53:56 PM

“What, your being thirsty? Chew buttons.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 9:55:17 PM

There is no place from the Balkans to the city of Los Angeles where tribal wars are not raging. Am I right? Humans basically are tribal, Mister Fletcher, something your government does not understand. There is the individual. There is the family. There is the tribe.

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:01:05 PM

“That tribalism is being used, around the world, by a lot of would-be tinpot demagogues and dictators, warlords, simply to grab power and all the good things for themselves. That that is what really goes on in the world, among whites, blacks, Orientals, women, children, always has and always will: power-mongering based on individual greed.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:02:48 PM

“Ummm.” Fletch smiled at Jack. “Not the first time I’ve noticed that those who lecture, frequently don’t listen.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:04:30 PM

Racism has taken off its coat,” Fletch said.

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:08:04 PM

“Best-laid plans,” Carrie said, “often get screwed up.”

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Reference To a Mouse by Robert Burns: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:11:26 PM

The place looked like a wacky seven-year-old boy’s idea of heaven.

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great description of a klan encampment

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:15:49 PM

“You came to my house to involve me.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:20:02 PM

“Joe Rogers’s wife.” Jack sat to Carrie’s right. “Sheriff Joe Rogers?” Fletch asked. “Yeah,” Carrie said. Fletch said, “Must be a coincidence.”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:22:46 PM

Hello, Andy. How’s your head bone?”

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:23:07 PM

The governor of California has issued a statement reminding people that most of California is not affected by earthquakes at all. I suspect that bit was written for him by the Chamber of Commerce goaded by amusement park operators.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2003-2005

Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:25:31 PM

Always he had noticed builders in this area of the South never left trees, or any source of shade, in their parking lots. Trees are pretty, give shade, lessen the need for air-conditioning, but golly gee, take up as much as a square foot of ground space.

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:34:09 PM

Apollonaris

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Added on Monday, November 28, 2016 10:34:52 PM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 2179
Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 12:34:21 AM

I hate to accept their food.

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Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:37:20 AM

She tasted her chili. “Yee! It tastes like chopped horned toads and ketchup! These foreigners don’t even know how to make respectable chili!”

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Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:38:15 AM

shifts

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Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:39:41 AM

“Fletch, the license plate is from our county.”

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Major tell that Sheriff didn’t pick up escapees

Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:42:35 AM

She’s out of pocket.

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I’m curious about where/when this phrase originated with the meaning of being “not available”? Perhaps with the invention of the cell phone that could fit into a pocket? Or earlier with a pool reference?

Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:45:17 AM

“This kid could be as crazy as a groundhog on ice.”

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Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:46:16 AM

“I suspect it’s not every man’s dream to discover his son is a cop-killing, escaped convict, racist, hate-group organizer.”

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Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:46:53 AM

“I always want to know the truth.”

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Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:47:18 AM

“I am Commandant Wolfe!” “I’m Shalom Aleichem.” Fletch stuck his thumb toward Carrie. “This is Golda Meir, as a girl.” “Doctor Kriegel has warned me of your sense of humor, Mister Fletcher.”

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Added on Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:49:27 AM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 2326
Added on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 1:45:26 AM

“Ah, Fletch! You’re not going to give me that one-world crap, are you?”

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Added on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 1:45:35 AM

Softly, Fletch said, “Since the beginning of time, a few have taken the fact of economic competition, no matter how great the resources, and used it to create hatred and violence to satisfy their own greed.”

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Added on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 1:45:56 AM

“How can I object?” Jack said. “I am a result of selective breeding. Aren’t I?”

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Added on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 1:48:02 AM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 2352
Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:08:04 AM

“My, my,” Fletch said to Carrie. “This is being taped.” “‘Vanity, vanity,’” Carrie said. “‘All is vanity.’” “More than that,” Fletch said. “Like their predecessors, they are carefully documenting their own history.” “So later they can deny it, right?”

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very remniscent of Trump

Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:08:59 AM

Ethnic cleansing. Separatism.”

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Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:11:21 AM

In the wasteland of Karoo, South Africa, Orania is the name of the headquarters of the Afrikaner Resistance Movement.

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Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:15:46 AM

There, standing, staring at them, openmouthed was their friend, the sheriff, Joe Rogers.

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Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:18:53 AM

I’ll believe that when catfish meow and climb trees.”

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Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:19:44 AM

If it were not the nature of these people to blame others for their ills, Fletch reasoned, they would not be here.

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Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:22:23 AM

I mean, get the E=MC2 out of here!”

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Added on Thursday, December 1, 2016 12:25:09 AM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 2576
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 1:29:41 AM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 2686
Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:05:44 PM

Fletch heard Toninho say,

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Quick reference back to Carioca Fletch

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:11:09 PM

“Animals? These aren’t the chosen people?” “No. You are the chosen people, Mister Fletcher. All this I do for you.”

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Sounds like something Jesus would say

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:16:10 PM

“Never judge a leader by his followers.”

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Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:16:18 PM

“We are just using these fools, these psychotics, toward an end.” “‘Using’ them,” Fletch repeated. “Of course. Using them. I wish I didn’t have to. There are many reasons you should be grateful, supportive toward my efforts.” “Sorry, I never carry my checkbook.” “Where would these psychotic fools be tonight, what would they be doing if they were not here bashing each other’s brains out?” “Home baking cookies?” “They have to belong to something, something bigger than they are, something secret, of which they can be secretly proud. By their natures, these fools are gang members. They are incapable, you see, of standing on their own, as individuals. We’re just taking advantage of their natures. We direct their energies. We organize them. They need the discipline we give them.”

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Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:17:11 PM

Jack said to Fletch: “What do you know? I’ve killed a cop.”

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Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:26:54 PM

Sabotage Corps is

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typo extra line return

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 2:44:09 PM

And you know the one thing people never can remain silent about is silence.” Andy remained silent.

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Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:01:35 PM

Carrie quoted Fletch: “‘We’re all mysteries awaiting solution.’” Fletch said, “We’re all histories awaiting execution.”

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Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:05:12 PM

“God! We’ll never get rid of that damned body!”

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Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:07:54 PM

Jack had awoken in time to set up the sound system for The Reverend Kriegel’s religious service, prayer meeting, sermon, harangue, newly scheduled for eleven o’clock.

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Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:08:54 PM

The Reverend Kriegel then had said a few words over the grave. To the men’s amusement, he commented on the appropriateness of “burying the cook cheek to jowl with roasted beef.”

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Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:09:39 PM

we will take just the men you have here—having chosen a small, fairly isolated city, in the Southwest, South, Midwest, West, it doesn’t matter—gather intelligence on it, turn off its power and water, attack it in force, and liberate from that town’s banks and other businesses what I think you Americans call ‘cash money.’

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Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:28:45 PM

Fletch realized he had the advantage. She was backlit by the fading light in the window behind her. The attendant had closed the door behind Fletch. He could see her amazing outline. She couldn’t see him at all.

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Interesting use of “amazing”

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:36:02 PM

“If you had raised a son, he would have rebelled against you, dissented, probably become the opposite of everything you are and everything you stand for. Sons do that.” “Some sons, I guess.” “Your son would have. I’m certain your son would have. Not knowing you, Jack adores you.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 3605-3608

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:39:43 PM

“His name is John Fletcher Faoni?” “Yes.” “Who’s John?” “You wanted more of Irwin Maurice maybe?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 3625-3627

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:40:56 PM

Strooth

Highlight (orange) Location 3690-3690

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:45:38 PM

“I’m not clucking.” It was getting dark outside and Fletch’s mind was settling on pizza. “I’m expostulating.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 3695-3696

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 3:46:12 PM

For a moment, Fletch was unsure whether it was Wolfe’s idea to shoot at Jack and Fletch, or to shoot himself.

Highlight (yellow) Location 3882-3883
What a dull ending if this is it.

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:07:43 PM

“I’ve heard that about you. You once reported a murder to your editor and asked him to tell the photographers to give the widow time to get home to report the murder.” “Did I?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 3899-3900

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:08:48 PM

Fletch said to Jack, “A woman named Slavenka Drakulic, a victim of the most recent Balkan ethnic-cleansing wars, wrote in The New York Times Sunday Magazine: ‘We are the war. I am afraid there is no one else to blame. We all make it possible. We allow it to happen. There is no them and us. There are no numbers, masses, categories. There is only one of us and, yes, we are responsible for each other.’”

Highlight (yellow) Location 3977-3980

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:13:28 PM

While Jack studied his ticket, Fletch said to Jack, “A woman named Slavenka Drakulic, a victim of the most recent Balkan ethnic-cleansing wars, wrote in The New York Times Sunday Magazine: ‘We are the war. I am afraid there is no one else to blame. We all make it possible. We allow it to happen. There is no them and us. There are no numbers, masses, categories. There is only one of us and, yes, we are responsible for each other.’” “Got a pen and piece of paper?” Jack asked. “In the glove compartment. Just thought that quote might add something to your story, if it fits in anywhere.” “How do you spell her name?” “By golly. The kid can even work pen and paper!”

Highlight (yellow) Location 3977-3984

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:14:06 PM

“I doubt you’d attempt anything without accomplishing it. Even murder.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 4005-4005

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:15:13 PM

His new T-shirt had a logo on it which read: WHY HUG THE ROAD WHEN YOU’VE GOT ME? He had a choice of either that logo or a beer advertisement.

Highlight (yellow) Location 4009-4010

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:15:45 PM

Carrie answered. “Hello?” “Hello.” “Where are you?” “I’ll be home in a few minutes.” “That’s good. Hey, Fletch! Guess what?” “What?” “I made a firecracker cake!” Fletch said, “Oh, boy.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 4017-4023
After a half dozen mentions of the stupid firecracker cake, this is almost funny now.

Added on Saturday, December 3, 2016 4:16:37 PM

Guide to highlight colors

Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below
Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word
Green–Reference to read
Blue–Interesting Quote
Gray–Typography Problem
Red–Example to work through

Syndicated copies to:

Book Review: Fletch’s Fortune by Gregory Mcdonald

Fletch's Fortune by Gregory Mcdonald (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Fletch's Fortune Book Cover Fletch's Fortune
Fletch #3 (in the stories' chronological order: #7)
Gregory Mcdonald
Fiction; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
1978; e-book: March 2002
Kindle e-book
256
Amazon.com / Overdrive

He hadn't been a practicing journalist for years, although people remembered him and he still has a few contacts. And he's pretty sure he hasn't paid his dues to the American Journalism Alliance anytime recently. But somebody has.

Enjoying himself on the French Riviera, developing a killer tan, and sleeping with the neighbor's wife, Fletch is feeling pretty flush. But when CIA agents Eggers and Fabens show up with a little more information about Fletch than is comfortable and an invitation to the A.J.A. convention, how could he refuse?

So he finds himself enlisted as a spy among his peers. But before he can even set up his surveillance, there's a murder. And almost everybody's a suspect because a lot of people were employed by Walter March, and most of them had a reason to hate him.

Fletch’s Fortune has a great high concept plot, which is really saying something for Fletch novels which all seem to have a high concept start from a sprinting position. It also allows for a fairly closed setting and lots of satire. The fact that Fletch is somehow both journalist and not journalist allows for some interesting dynamics.

For a parlor-type mystery, there were almost too many characters/suspects, but given the potential size of the conference, I’ll let Mcdonald take a flier on it as he did an excellent job fleshing out each of the characters to make them unique enough to stand on their own without giving up too much. I also suspect that he may have thought of cute little character descriptions over one afternoon and then assigned them to people as they appeared–some of them are really delicious particularly:

The man’s shoulders were little more than outriggers for his ears.

One of my favorite constructs in this book that sets it apart from others in the series were the conference session titles being used deliciously as chapter openers. Many of them provide some hilarious counterpoint to the plot and certainly add to the humor of the overall piece.

Another interesting turn was the romantic portion of the plot in which one of Fletch’s unfortunate choices of pseudonym finally gets him into trouble, though not in the way in which one might otherwise suppose. The sub-plot with Freddie was hilarious and tense without actually coming to a final head. (Writing this after I’ve now read Fletch and the Man Who makes me even more glad that it didn’t. Their relationship is like the unrequited Sam/Rebecca pairing in the NBC television series Cheers, which this book preceded by several years.)

The humor at Crystal’s expense was all great if perhaps maybe even too much, though it was done with enough warmth that it’s obvious that Fletch is doing his part in the nicest way. (Now that I’m in the midst of Son of Fletch, it’s interesting to think back on his relationship with Crystal.)

This book read very quickly and was well plotted though the ending was perhaps all too quick. I would have preferred a slower unfolding in the third act. At least in this one, we get the payoff in the end of seeing some of Fletch’s machinations coming to a head all at once–something we didn’t get to see in Fletch when he set both of his ex-wives up to unwittingly move in together with each other while thinking that they were getting back together with him.

This is sure to rank at the top of my favorite Fletch novels by the time I’m done with the series.

Reading Progress
  • 08/7/16 marked as: want to read; “The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series.”
  • 09/23/16 marked as: currently reading
  • 09/23/16 14.0% “As usual, a great zinger of an opening… Mcdonald knows how to open a first act.”
  • 09/24/16 22.0% “Things have slowed down a smidge, but the forward momentum of the murder investigation begins to move things along a bit.”
  • 09/28/16 53.0% “Making good progress, hope to finish tomorrow. There are certainly some interesting characters here, though perhaps feeling like too many, particularly since most seem to potentially have committed the murder.”
  • 09/29/16 100% “The second half read incredibly fast. The plot particularly began unfolding in the end almost too quickly. I wish the last act could have lasted a bit longer. I really enjoyed the Crystal character and the snide banter she continually spouts with Fletch. The wrap up with Freddie was generally unexpected, but delicious in its oddity in the larger canon. There was surprisingly little talk of Fletch’s ex-wives or even of his potentially adding another to the collection. Some of my favorite jokes were the chapter headings of the schedule of the conference along with even funnily named rooms in which the sessions were taking place.I’ll hope to write a longer review shortly.”

 

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

“C.I.A., Mister Fletcher.”
“Um. Would you mind spelling that?”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 26

“The name’s Arbuthnot,” Fletch said. “Freddy Arbuthnot.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 33
Yet another of Fletch’s many pseudonyms.

“Coffee?”
“If we wanted coffee,” said Fabens, standing up, “we would have made it ourselves.”
“Part of the C.I.A. training, I expect,” Fletch said. “Trespass and Coffee-Making. A Bloody Mary? Something to raise the spirits on this Sunday noon?”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 52

Trans World Airlines

Highlight (yellow) – Location 97
Apparently he’s got stock in TWA. (The original Fletch book also referenced TWA.)

“Yet here you are, living in a villa in Cagna, Italy, the Mediterranean sparkling through your windows, driving a Porsche … unemployed.”
“I retired young.”
“In your lifetime, you have paid almost no federal taxes.”
“I had expenses.”
“You haven’t even filed a return. Ever.”
“I have a very slow accountant.”

Highlight (yellow) – Location 121

“Did you have a nice flight?”
“No.”
“Sorry to hear that. Why not?”
“Sat next to a Methodist minister.”
“What’s wrong with sitting next to a Methodist minister?”
“Are you kidding? The closer to heaven we got, the smugger he got.”
“Jesus, Fletch.”
“That’s what I say.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 178-182

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:03:45 PM

“They weren’t gentlemen.”
“Sorry to hear that. We usually send only our finest abroad. I haven’t made it yet.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 233-234

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:09:42 PM

“I’m working on a book about Edgar Arthur Tharp, Junior.”
“You’re working on a book about an American cowboy painter in Italy?”
“It brings a certain perspective to the work. Detachment.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 347-349

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:19:44 PM

“What’s your name?”
“I. M. Fletcher.”
“Fletcher? Never heard of you. Why so pompous about it?”
“Pompous?”
“You announced your name, I am Fletcher. As if someone had said you weren’t. Why didn’t you just say, Fletcher?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 354-357
I noticed this in the last book too. Surprised he didn’t make more ‘I’m’ jokes.

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:22:21 PM

“You have nice hands.”
“One on the end of each arm.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 363-363

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:23:56 PM

“Arbuthnot,” she said.
“Arbuthnot?”
“Arbuthnot. Fredericka Arbuthnot.”
“Freddie Arbuthnot?”
“You’ve heard of me?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 373-375

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:25:49 PM

Helena Williams pushed the mental button for A Distraught Expression.

Highlight (yellow) Location 429-430
Mcdonald also makes references to people putting on a face in Fletch and the Man Who, particularly when describing the political candidate there. (Annotation added on 12/1/16)

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:32:02 PM

“Now you must tell me all about yourself, Fletch. Whom are you working for now?”
“The C.I.A.” He looked openly at Freddie Arbuthnot. “I’m here to bug everybody.”
“You’ve always had such a delightful sense of humor,” Helena said.
“He’s bugging me,” Freddie muttered.
“I’ve heard that joke,” Fletch snapped.

Highlight (yellow) Location 452-455

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:38:07 PM

“Would you children like to share a room?” Helena asked.
“We are sort of crowded—”
“Definitely not,” Fletch said “I suspect she snores.”
“I do not.”
“How do you know?”
“I’ve been told.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 456-458

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:38:42 PM

episcopally

Highlight ( orange ) Location 461-461
One doesn’t see this word often, much less in an adverbial form.

Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:39:31 PM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 494
Added on Friday, September 23, 2016 11:45:44 PM

pellucid

Highlight (orange) Location 546-546

Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:20:59 AM

“I was pregnant.”
“How could anyone tell?”
“Pardon me while I chuckle.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 595-597

Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:30:50 AM

“What else do you know about the murder, Crystal?”
“That it’s going to be the best reported crime in history. There are more star reporters at Hendricks Plantation at this moment than have ever been gathered under one roof before. In fact, I suspect more are showing up unexpectedly, simply because of the murder. Do you realize what it would be worth to a person’s career to scoop the murder of Walter March—with all this competition around?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 617-619

Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:33:09 AM

sybarite

Highlight (orange) Location 630-631

Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:34:51 AM

“Experts,” he said, “are the sources of opinions. People are the sources of facts.”

Highlight (blue) Location 644-645

Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:37:09 AM

“Did you tell the other reporters about him?”
“No.” She said, “I guess it takes nine times being asked the same questions, for me to have remembered him.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 707-709

Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:51:06 AM

“Good night, sweet Princess.” He turned out the bedside lamp. “Dream sweet dreams, and, when you awake, think kindly on the Bumptious Bandit! ‘Daughter, did you hear hoofbeats in the night?’” He left a light on across the room, to orient her when she awoke. “‘Father, Father, I thought it were the palpitations of my own heart!’”
Letting himself out, the telephone information sheet firmly in hand, Fletch said, “‘It were, Daughter. Booze does that to you.’”

Highlight (yellow) Location 776-779

Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:58:07 AM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 780
Added on Saturday, September 24, 2016 9:58:25 AM

audiencé

Highlight (gray) Location 874-874

Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 3:07:52 PM

“The Administration has decided not to ignore us completely,” Crystal Faoni said, “just because we’ve taken to stabbing each other in the back more openly than usual.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 890-891

Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 3:14:47 PM

“My, my,” Fletch said of his marvelous machine, “it walks, it talks, cries ‘Mama!’ and piddles genuine orange juice!”

Highlight (yellow) Location 961-962

Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 3:45:05 PM

“I take it we’re not sleeping together?”
Fletch said into the phone, “Who is this?” It was 1:20 A.M. He had been asleep a half-hour.
“Damn you!” said Freddie Arbuthnot. “Damn your eyes, your nose, and, your cock!”
The phone went dead. It wasn’t that Fletch hadn’t thought of it. He knew she’d washed her knees.

Highlight (yellow) Location 1082-1086

Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 4:20:42 PM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 1087
Added on Sunday, September 25, 2016 4:21:06 PM

“I. M. Fletcher?”
“One of us is.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1272-1273

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:19:06 AM

“Will you be needing equipment, sir?”
“I guess so. Also a partner. Playing tennis alone takes too much running back and forth.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1274-1275

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:19:25 AM

“Hendricks. H, as in waffle.”

Highlight (blue) Location 1309-1309

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:22:30 AM

You’re unemployed?”
“Presently unencumbered by earned income.”
“You have no outlet?”
“Only the kind you can flush.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1320-1322

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:23:38 AM

“That was a little song I was taught. As a child.” She was blushing more. “The ‘Wash Me Up’ song.”
“Oh!” Fletch said. “There is a difference between boys and girls! I was taught the wash-me-down song!”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1387-1389

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:37:12 AM

“Would you please go get dressed?”
“Why are people always saying that to me?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1397-1398

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:37:53 AM

bonhomie

Highlight (orange) Location 1521-1521

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:48:54 AM

“Hey, Bob. We’re supposed to be journalists, aren’t we? Journalists live it up. I saw a movie once.…”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1572-1572

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:52:22 AM

The man shook hands as would an eel—if eels were familiar with human social graces.

Highlight (yellow) Location 1583-1583

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:53:46 AM

Other journalists referred to Lewis Graham as “the Reader’s Digest of the air.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1591-1592

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:54:41 AM

Trouble was, his colleagues read the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Atlanta Constitution, the Los Angeles Times, Time, Newsweek, Foreign Affairs, and the Old Testament as well as he and could identify the sources of his facts, insights, and understandings, precisely, night after night.

Highlight (yellow) Location 1589-1591

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:55:07 AM

He painted quite a picture. Sailing off into the sunset, hand in hand with his childhood sweetheart, sitting on his poop or whatever it is yachts have.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1633-1634

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:59:44 AM

catamaran

Highlight (yellow) Location 1635-1635
Mcdonald seems to like these boats, or they’re the only kind he knows??

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:00:22 AM

“How do,” the Major said.
“Do I have the honor of addressing Irwin Maurice Fletcher?” The drawl was thicker than Mississippi mud.
“Right,” said Fletch.
“Veteran of the United States Marine Corps?”
“Yes.”
“Serial Number 1893983?”
“It was. I retired it. Anyone can use it now.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1679-1683

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:04:23 AM

“Anyway, this here sharp-eyed old boy—he’s from Tennessee—I suspect he was pretty well-known around home for shooting off hens’ teeth at a hundred meters

Highlight (yellow) Location 1687-1688

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:05:00 AM

“Major, do you have a point? This is long distance. You never can tell. A taxpayer might be listening in.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1699-1700
Mcdonald shows a bit of his upbringing and time period here. He seems to have a “hangup” (pun intended) about telephones as this mirrors some of the snide remarks made in the original Fletch with Alan Stanwyk’s dad’s conversation about telephones.

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:05:59 AM

You asked the question. You could wear an elephant down to a mouse.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 1819-1819

Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:14:22 AM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 1888
Added on Tuesday, September 27, 2016 9:20:03 AM

“Now I’ve got the Fletch story to cap all Fletch stories! Tousle-headed Fletch kneeling by his bed, lisping, ‘Now I lay me down with sheep’!”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2080-2081

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 5:54:39 PM

Crystal said into her parfait.

Crystal does a lot of talking to her food. In fact, in general, Mcdonald seems to be having way too much fun with Crystal’s food obsession.
Highlight (yellow) Location 2230

putting us up in their best hotel, which had the ambience of a chicken coop,

Highlight (yellow) Location 2245-2245
great description

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 6:08:57 PM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 2307
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 6:14:56 PM

Would you care for some coffee?”
“I don’t use it.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2313-2314
In the 80s drug culture this sounds interestingly illicit.

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:14:17 PM

What’s keeping the wolf from the door?”
“My ugly disposition.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2319-2320

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:14:56 PM

WOMEN IN JOURNALISM:
Face It, Fellas— Few Stories Take Nine Months to Finish
Group Discussion
Aunt Sally Hendricks Sewing Room

Highlight (yellow) Location 2387-2390

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:21:31 PM

“Of course I’m at the Star. Would I be home with my god-awful wife if I could help it?”
“Ah,” Fletch said. “The Continuing Romance of Jack and Daphne Saunders. How is the old dear?”
“Fatter, meaner, and uglier than ever.”
“Don’t knock fat.”
“How can you?”
“Got her eyelashes stuck in a freezer’s door lately?”
“No, but she plumped into a door the other night Got the door knob stuck in her belly button. Had to have it surgically removed.”
Fletch thought Jack remained married to Daphne simply to make up rotten stories about her.

Highlight (yellow) Location 2460-2465

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:27:05 PM

“Okay. You want background or gossip at this point?”
“Both.”
“Walter March was murdered,”
“No foolin’.”
“Scissors in the back.”
“Next you’re going to say he fell down dead.”
“You’re always rushing ahead, Jack.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2480-2484

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:29:08 PM

“How do I know? If it is true, it happened at a dangerous age for Rolly—fifteen or sixteen—I forget which. Loves and hatreds run deep in people that age.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2507-2507

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:30:59 PM

The world’s greatest practitioner of the sufferin’-Jesus school of journalism.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2512-2513

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:31:31 PM

“If that’s an ivory tower, I’m a lollipop.”
“I can lick you anytime.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2542-2543

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:33:59 PM

“Sure, Jack, sure. Anything for ‘old times’ sake.’ “

Highlight (yellow) Location 2561-2561
Typo: there’s an extraneous single quote, and the closing double quote is facing the wrong direction.

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:35:19 PM

🔖 Bookmark on Location 2628
Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:41:04 PM

Fletch said, “Oh. Well, you haven’t identified yourself.”
The man shook his head. “I.R.S.,” he said. “I.R.S.”
“But what do I call you?” Fletch asked. “I? I.R.? Mister S.?”
“You don’t need to call me anything,” I.R.S. said. “Just respond.”
“Ir.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2756-2759

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:58:00 PM

Fletch looked at I.R.S. The man was almost entirely Adam’s apple.

Highlight (yellow) Location 2773-2774

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 9:59:48 PM

The man’s shoulders were little more than outriggers for his ears.

Highlight (yellow) Location 2774-2775

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:00:00 PM

“Crystal? I’m going to say something very, very rotten to you.”
“What?”
“The dining room is still open for breakfast.”
“Rat”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2789-2791

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:01:07 PM

“As a matter of personal curiosity, may I ask why you have not filed returns?”
“April’s always a busy month for me. You know. In the spring a young man’s fancy really shouldn’t have to turn to the Internal Revenue Service.”
“You could always apply for extensions.”
“Who has the time to do that?”
“Is there any political thinking behind your not paying taxes?”
“Oh, no. My motives are purely esthetic, if you want to know the truth.”
“Esthetic?”
“Yes. I’ve seen your tax forms. Visually, They’re ugly. In fact, very offensive. And their use of the English language.

Highlight (yellow) Location 2799-2805

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:02:47 PM

wallahs

Highlight (orange) Location 2807-2807

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:03:19 PM

Address by Horsch Aldrich

Highlight (yellow) Location 2868-2869
What do you know? An Aldrich made it into the story! A long lost relative apparently…

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:10:24 PM

“Almost everyone here has made a point of telling me how important he or she is. Such a lot of important people. The seas would rumble and nations would crumble if I kept any of you out of circulation for many more minutes than I had to.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2908-2909

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:20:52 PM

“Right,” Crystal said solemnly to her fruit salad. “News does not happen unless a reporter is there to report it.”
“For example,” said Fletch, “if no one had known World War Two was happening.…”
“Actually,” Crystal said, “Hitler without the use of the radio wouldn’t have been Hitler at all.”
“And the Civil War,” said Freddie. “If it hadn’t been for the telegraph.…”
“The geographic center of the American Revolution,” Fletch said, “was identical to the center of the new American printing industry.”
“And then there was Caesar,” Crystal said. “Was he a military genius with pen in hand, or a literary genius with sword in hand? Did Rome conquer the world in reality, or just its communications systems?”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2913-2919

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:22:25 PM

Did you try those blueberry muffins this morning?”
“I tried only one of them,” Freddie said.
Crystal said, “The rest of them were good, too.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2921-2923

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:23:22 PM

“It’s been like trying to sing ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ while your head’s stuck in a beehive.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 2925-2926
Creative description

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:23:48 PM

Neale was paying more attention to the remainder of his salad than Crystal would do after trekking across a full golf course.

Highlight (yellow) Location 2954-2954

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:26:39 PM

“Oh, yum!” said Crystal. “Who cares about death and perdition as long as there’s chocolate cake?”

Highlight (blue) Location 2963-2963

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 10:29:10 PM

Who’d ever want to kill the Vice-President of the United States? One could have a greater effect upon national policy by killing the White House cook.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 3228-3229
Your Superfluous Excellency?

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 11:25:46 PM

And while the General was making this big entrance, landing in a helicopter on the back lawn, the Vice-President of the United States was arriving at the front of the hotel in an economy-size car—completely ignored.”

Highlight (yellow) Location 3231-3232

Added on Wednesday, September 28, 2016 11:26:18 PM

Bushwa

Highlight (orange) Location 3418-3418

Added on Thursday, September 29, 2016 12:13:05 AM

“‘Live like journalists,?’ ” Fletch quoted. “‘Disgusting.’ ”

Highlight (gray) Location 3444-3444
The comma and quotes here need to be tweaked.

Added on Thursday, September 29, 2016 12:18:30 AM

Guide to highlight colors

Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below
Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word
Green–Reference to read
Blue–Interesting Quote
Gray–Typography Problem
Red–Example to work through

Syndicated copies to:

Book review: Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald

Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Fletch Book Cover Fletch
Fletch #1 (in the stories' chronological order: #4)
Gregory Mcdonald
Fiction; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
1974; Reprint edition (March 12, 2002)
Kindle e-book
208
Amazon.com / Overdrive

When a wealthy California industrialist tells apparent beach bum I. M. Fletcher that he wants to be murdered, the undercover journalist investigates the businessman's private life. Winner of the Edgar Award.

The book that started it all!

I’d originally read this sometime around 1988 after seeing the Warner Bros. feature film of the same name. It’s not quite as over-the-top as the comedy of the film and the humor is a little sharper and wrier.

For the most part, the plotline of the text is nearly identical to that of the film with a few exceptions mostly relating to names of characters and casting (warning: spoilers follow):

  • The Collins family has been renamed Boyd, likely so as not to run afoul of the name of author Joan Collins.
  • Fletch’s editors Clara and Frank are concatenated into the character of just Frank.
  • Fletch’s beach girlfriend Bobbi doesn’t exist in the film, likely to focus more on Joan.
  • Montgomery is a younger high-school aged student with more social ties than the Gummy of the film.
  • Stanwyk is not involved in the drug trade and his death at the hands of the Chief of Police is motivated by a different bit of plot. He also has an additional local paramour. His character and motivations are much better delineated in the book and several characters backing this up were missing from the film.
  • Much of the shennanigans of the film was added there and didn’t exist in the book, though almost all of the motivating comedy and sense of humor is surely there.
  • Large chunks of dialogue from the film are drawn almost directly from the book.
  • The film is obviously a bit more cinematic and kinetic with Fletch doing much more movement, travel, and even chase scenes to make things in the film move along, while the book is a bit more balanced and even realistic.

Certainly there are many other differences, but this covers the broadest spectrum.

In this motivating text for the remainder of the series, Fletch is drawn as a very clear-cut and incredibly interesting character with a fantastic sense of morality and humor. Of the parts of the series I’ve read thus far, this is definitely one of my favorites, second only perhaps to Confess, Fletch.

Here the cat-and-mouse-game between Fletch and Joan is better delineated and the relationship between Fletch and Stanwyk’s father is quirkier and more interesting.

If you enjoyed the movie (and even if you didn’t), you’re sure to appreciate this as fiction, particularly with Mcdonald’s ability to paint a picture with words and write story through character.

A brief note on the physical text

This is assuredly an optical character recognition scanned version of the original text. There are a dozen or so obvious typos that didn’t get fixed. There are more than several places where a temporal change in the plot occurs, but the additional line returns that were originally included to indicate the break are now missing. This can make reading portion a bit annoying. The quality control of the typesetting of the e-book text could certainly have been much better.

Reading Progress
  • 08/7/16 marked as: want to read; “The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series.”
  • 09/16/16 marked as: currently reading
  • 09/19/16 27.0% “So far this is maybe even better than I remember it.”
  • 09/20/16 68.0% “This just keeps getting better. I’m enjoying some of the subtle differences between the film and the book. No surprise that the movie renamed Joan Collins to Boyd. I know I’d read this 20+ years ago and I remember it being darker than the film, but the tone seems lighter to me now somehow.”
  • 09/22/16 100.0% “A slightly different ending than one in the film, but still nicely tied together… Possibly my second favorite in the series so far.”
Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia
Chapter 1

“What’s your name?”
“Fletch.”
“What’s your full name?”
“Fletcher.”
“What’s your first name?”
“Irwin.”
“What?”
“Irwin. Irwin Fletcher. People call me Fletch.”
“Irwin Fletcher, I have a proposition to make to you. I will give you a thousand dollars for just listening to it. If you decide to reject the proposition, you take the thousand dollars, go away, and never tell anyone we talked. Fair enough?”
“Is it criminal? I mean, what you want me to do?”
“Of course.”
“Fair enough. For a thousand bucks I can listen. What do you want me to do?”
“I want you to murder me.”

—Page 1 · Location 37 This is the first exchange of the book and a really great opening

The license plate of the car was 440-001.

—Page 3 · Location 68

The paintings in the room were not particularly good, in Fletch’s opinion, but they were real.

—Page 4 · Location 92

“I’m a fairly reliable-looking drifter.”

—Page 5 · Location 106

Chapter 2

“Bye, Clara. Nice talking with you. Don’t get any crumbs in Frank’s bed.”
“Prick.”

—Page 9 · Location 180

“Wise ass. What if some ladies were around?”
“There are no ladies in California.”

—Page 10 · Location 193

“Dishonest of me, I know. “But as Pappy used to say about violating virgins, ‘Son, if you’re not the first, someone else will be.’ ”

—Page 12 · Location 231

Chapter 3

“My extension is 705. Many thanks.”
“Christ.”
“No. I.M. Fletcher.”

—Page 13 · Location 264 Like the man says: ‘I’m’ Fletcher, not Christ.

“Vicious and violent. Bullshit. One night I stepped on the cat’s tail.”
“You pitched the cat through the window of your seventh-floor apartment.”
“The whole place smelled of cat.”

—Page 15 · Location 297 

“There you are, Mr. Gillett. Thanks for stopping by. I’m sorry we’re not on the seventh floor.”

—Page 16 · Location 313 Fletch had just mentioned throwing a cat out of the window of a 7th floor apartment.

Before leaving, Gillett tried to look haughty, but only succeeded in looking as if he were in the early stages of a sneeze.

—Page 17 · Location 324

Chapter 4

Marvin and Helen Stanwyk, Nonheagan, Pennsylvania.

—Page 24 · Location 458

You just fired someone.”
“As a matter of fact, I just did.”
“Who?”
“A kid in the city room. He had been calling people up and asking them stupid questions, saying he was someone from the Associated Press.”
“Really? How awful! I always tell people I’m from the Chronicle-Gazette, myself.”

—Page 26 · Location 487

“Fletcher, we have to talk.”
“Are you up to it?”
“That’s why I thought we should have lunch. In the cafeteria. Put your shoes on.”
“You’re not taking me out?”
“I wouldn’t be seen in public with you. Even a drugstore lunch counter wouldn’t let us in, the way you dress.”

—Page 27 · Location 495

“See you upstairs. Put your shoes on.”

—Page 27 · Location 503

Chapter 5

Clara Snow had ordered an uncut bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich on toast. When she bit into it the two edges of toast nearer Fletch gaped as if about to bite him.

—Page 27 · Location 504

“I don’t resent women. I rather like women.”
“You haven’t had much luck with them.”
“My only mistake is that I keep marrying them.”

—Page 28 · Location 512

He chewed his calves’ liver open-mouthed.
“Such principle,” she said, sucking Coke from a straw.
“You can’t tell me you haven’t made every strung-out little girl on the beach.”
“That’s different. That’s for a story. I will do anything for a story. That’s why I put penicillin on my expense account.”
“You do?”
“Under Telephones’.”

—Page 28 · Location 519

“If there is no one to complain for a kid, the law don’t give a shit.”
“Fletcher’s Rule.”

—Page 30 · Location 548

Chapter 7

“A dowdy old thing. She always reminds me of an Eskimo full of baked beans. I mean, she looks as if, if she ever got unfrozen, she would evaporate in one enormous fart.”

—Page 41 · Location 748

Your style is exactly what Beau Brummel did in his time. All Brummel did, you know, was to bring the lean, simple country style into the city.”

—Page 41 · Location 754

henna

—Page 41 · Location 763 An interesting use of the word from the 70’s. I don’t think I’ve seen it again until the early 2000s otherwise, and then in reference to tattoos.

Chapter 9

His apartment was on the seventh floor of a building that had everything but design. His apartment— a living room, a bedroom, bath and kitchenette— was impeccably neat. On the wall over the divan was a blow-up of a multiple cartes-de-visite by Andre Adolphe Eugene Disderi.

—Page 53 · Location 973

Chapter 10

In an ell of the room,

—Page 57 · Location 1035

Chapter 11

“I used to be a pretty good house burglar myself,” Creasey said. “I even had equipment.”
“What happened?”
“I got ripped off. Some bastard stole my burglary equipment. The bastard.”
“That’s funny.”
“A fuckin’ riot.”
“You should have had business insurance.”

—Page 63 · Location 1153

Chapter 12

Utrelamensky. John Utrelamensky.”

—Page 69 · Location 1268 One of Fletch’s pseudonyms

Chapter 15

hibachi.

—Page 87 · Location 1585 What a fun word, and somehow so culturally 1970s 

“John Zalumarinero,” Fletch said.

—Page 87 · Location 1587  One of Fletch’s pseudonyms

He knows less about cows than I do, and all I know is that a cow is square with legs sticking out at the corners.

—Page 92 · Location 1687

“Sorry I didn’t get to meet their daughter, Julie.”
“Little brat.”
“Little brat?”
“Jesus, I wish she had a sister so I could beat one of them to death with the other one. Have another drink?”

—Page 93 · Location 1693

Chapter 16

Some of these people had been hanging fire two or three days.

—Page 99 · Location 1808 What a great phrase for people with no drugs.

Chapter 18

Sitting on the divan under the Disderi, he ate two delicatessen sandwiches and drank a bottle of milk. On the coffee table in front of him was the big tape recorder. On the wall across from him was a copy of William James’s Cherry Beach. After he had finished his sandwiches and milk, he went into the bedroom and lay on the bed. Facing him was a copy of Fredric Weiss’s 1968 photograph of a boy apparently walking in midair beneath two roofs, Boy Jumping.

—Page 101 · Location 1832

“Jim Swarthout speaking.”
“Hi, Jim. This is Bill Carmichael.”

—Page 101 · Location 1840  Another of Fletch’s psuedonyms

Chapter 19

“I’ve got a lot of painin’ to do. To make up for what I did.”

—Page 112 · Location 2030 Painin’ is such a great word here. (Presuming it’s not a typo from OCR…)

Chapter 20

Fletch wanted to open the window, but the window jack handles had been removed. The police were probably afraid someone would try to commit suicide by bopping himself on the nose with one.

—Page 115 · Location 2085

Chapter 25

But again, she was educated and experienced without the flash that makes champions. And she was without the playful joy of the beginner.

—Page 142 · Location 2570 This description was used to describe both Joan’s tennis ability and then a few pages later her ability in bed.

“Zamanawinkeraleski.”
“God, what a moniker. Zamanawink— say it again?”
“— eraleski. Zamanawinkeraleski.”
“You mean someone actually married you with a name like that?”
“Yup. And now there are three little Zamanawinkeraleskis.”
“What was her maiden name? I mean, your wife’s?”
“Fletcher.”
“That’s a nice name. Why would she give up a nice name like that to become a Zamabangi or whatever it is?”
“Zamanawinkeraleski. It’s more distinguished than Fletcher.”
“It’s so distinguished no one can say it. What is it, Polish?”
“Rumanian.”
“I didn’t know there was a difference.”
“Only Poles and Rumanians care about the difference.”
“What is the difference?”
“Between Poles and Rumanians? They make love differently.”
“Oh?”
“Twice I’ve made love Polish style. Now I’ll show you how a Rumanian would do it.”
“Polish style was all right.”
“But you haven’t seen the Rumanian style yet.”
“Why didn’t you make love Rumanian style in the first place?”
“I didn’t think you were ready for it.”
“I’m ready for it.”
It was eight-thirty.
In forty-eight hours Fletch was scheduled to murder her husband.

—Page 144 · Location 2605 Another of Fletch’s pseudonyms sparking an interesting passage.

Chapter 26

“Charles Witherspoon.”

—Page 147 · Location 2644  Fat Sam’s original name.

Chapter 28

“Oh, I forgot: you’re a pulse-taker. When I was home for lunch, Mrs. Stanwyk was still ticking over nicely. The older models are the best, you know. Better built, and they use less fuel.”

—Page 162 · Location 2916

If I remember rightly, girls have a couple of legs under them, a hank o’ hair up top, and a couple of protuberances about grab height. That about right?”

—Page 162 · Location 2921 Marvyn Stanwyk’s definition of girls.

“What I mean is, did you mean girls, or girl?”
“I’m in the hardware business, son. I’m apt to speak in gross lots.”

—Page 162 · Location 2923

She insisted it happened only once, but as Mother Goose said, once is enough.

—Page 164 · Location 2953

Chapter 29

R. Sanders Fletcher

—Page 168 · Location 3030 The pseudonym Fletch uses at the Newspaper

All I ever won in the marines was a disease coffee doesn’t cure.”
“Do you still have it?”
“No. I lost it on a toilet seat.”
“At City Hall, I hope.”
“Probably. I thought you picked up the Bronze Star years ago.”

—Page 176 · Location 3164

Chapter 30

Prowling the room, watching her, Fletch had the sudden, irrational desire to marry Joan Collins Stanwyk.

—Page 180 · Location 3232

“How very interesting. You go to that much effort for one paragraph?”
“You should see the efforts I go to sometimes for paragraphs I don’t even wite.”

—Page 181 · Location 3246

Chapter 31

“The thing that tipped me off was something your wife said the other night when we were in bed together.”

—Page 187 · Location 3358 A great quote that made it directly into the film.

Chapter 32

“Helluva story this morning, Mr. Fletcher.”
“Thanks for reading the News-Tribune.

—Page 192 · Location 3434

fp

—Page 192 · Location 3444 A nice bit of newspaper terminology

Typos

—Page 32 · Location 601 Should be ‘I’ instead of ‘You’.

—Page 68 · Location 1244 There should be a text break above this.

“The Nonheagan Inn. Good afternoon.”

—Page 85 · Location 1566 Text break before this.

“Swarthout Nevada Realty Company.”

—Page 86 · Location 1575 Should have text break before this.

“Where’s Gummy?”

—Page 111 · Location 2009 Should be a text break before this.

—Page 141 · Location 2540 Typo: should be “Your”.

—Page 151 · Location 2728 “it” instead of I (typo)

At six o’clock

—Page 183 · Location 3289 text break before this

—Page 192 · Location 3444 typo: should be “l”

“Anytime you’re ready, Mr. Fletcher.”

—Page 195 · Location 3494 text break before

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📖 68.0% done with Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald

📖 68.0% done with Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald

This just keeps getting better. I’m enjoying some of the subtle differences between the film and the book. No surprise that the movie renamed Joan Collins to Boyd. I know I’d read this 20+ years ago and I remember it being darker than the film, but the tone seems lighter to me now somehow.

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Book review: Carioca Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald

Carioca Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Carioca Fletch Book Cover Carioca Fletch
Fletch #7 (in the stories' chronological order: #5)
Gregory Mcdonald
Fiction; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
1984
Kindle e-book
190
Amazon.com / Overdrive

(Description from the publisher) Fletch's trip to Brazil wasn't exactly planned. But it's Carnival time in Rio and he has plenty of money. And it took him no time to hook up with the luscious Laura Soares. Fletch is beginning to relax, just a little.

But between the American widow who seems to be following Fletch and the Brazilian widow who's fingered Fletch as her long-dead husband, he suddenly doesn't have much time to enjoy the present or even get a wink of sleep.

A thirty-year-old unsolved murder, a more recent suicide, an inconvenient heart attack--somehow Fletch is connected to all of them and one of those connections might just shorten his own life. From Rio to Bahia and back again, at the height of Carnival, Fletch has to keep moving or get stopped cold.

Following a few months after the original book Fletch, Carioca Fletch begins with a jolt of plot as an old woman from one of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro identifies Fletch as the reincarnation of her long dead husband and wants to know who murdered him 47 years ago. Everyone apparently believes her wholeheartedly and there’s nothing Fletch can do but go along with what might be an elaborate joke. Nearly simultaneously Fletch runs across a widow who he says will think he killed her husband! And so the mystery begins???

Mcdonald does an excellent job of introducing the reader to a particular flavor of Brazilian culture which presages the pace of the plot. As a reader I felt nearly as frustrated with the pace of life and the style of culture (which heavily parallels the plot) as Fletch must have in his own evolving situation. This treatment makes me identify with I.M. much more closely than I might have otherwise, so kudos to Mcdonald for that.

As it turns out the woman Fletch initially dodges because he says she’ll think he killed her husband is Joan Stanwyk. She’s had him tracked down so that she can confront him about her husband’s death as well as a large amount of money that has gone missing. Seemingly only minutes later, Joan disappears just before Carnival and there isn’t much Fletch can do to find her. I had hoped for more mystery on this front, but the solution is wrapped up in a few scant pages right at the end.

Travelogue

There’s some great description and depiction of the Brazilian culture and the piece feels like a reasonable travelogue in some sense. Sadly it means it’s a bit thin on plot. Things start off with a nice bang, but then plod along for most of the book before things begin to pick up again in the last quarter of the book. There was so much more that Mcdonald could have done with the plot. Joan Stanwyk tracking down Fletch for a confrontation, Fletch and the Tap Dancers disposing of a friend’s body in a scene that presaged the entire plot of the film Weekend at Bernie’s (1989), the detective portion relating to who killed Junio all those years ago… Instead Mcdonald seemingly lets all the plot points work themselves out without any real work from our protagonist who just floats along through the culture. However, I will give him huge points from an artistic standpoint as he’s done a great job instilling a particular pace and cultural way of life into the text in such a manner that it really seems natural and satisfying that things work out the way they do.

Wrap up

Yet, in the end ultimately I’m conflicted as I’d have preferred more Fletchness, but I find it to have been enjoyable–at least it was better than Fletch, Too which still sits poorly with me.

I am left a bit adrift at the end with respect to the Tap Dancers who were so pivotal to most of the plot. What happened to the promised trip back to the brothel? Somehow they just seem to drift out of the plot.

Why wasn’t there better development of a romantic interest?

I don’t recall if this or something else set things in motion from a cultural standpoint, but as I recall the mid-80s, this would have ridden at the forefront of the zeitgeist of Brazillian culture in North America with several other books, television shows, and even movies which featured Brazil and even capoeira at the time.

Reading Progress
  • 8/7/16 marked as: want to read; “The Rio Olympics reminded me that I’d gotten Carioca Fletch to read back in the 80’s and never got around to it, so I thought I’d come back and revisit the series.”
  • 09/05/16 marked as: currently reading
  • 09/05/16 14.0% “An interesting start with a nice dash of the cultural part of what it means to be a Brazilian to set the stage of what is to come in the book. The reader is nicely made to feel the cultural clash of American and Brazilian along with the frustration Fletch surely feels.”
  • 09/09/16 34.0%
  • 09/10/16 61.0% “The plot seems to have slowed down significantly since the opening, but is just finally getting moving again.”
  • 9/13/16 71%
  • 09/16/16 100%
Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

“You have not heard of queima de arquivo?”

“It means ‘burn the record'” Marilia said.
“It means ‘cover up,'” Laura said. “It is the Brazilian way of life. That is why we are so free.”

—Loc 65 & 68: One of the motivating concepts within the book and an interesting life philosophy. There are dozens of appearances of the word burn throughout the book.

“Half your diet should be carbohydrates.”
“You’re reading about diets?”

—Loc 266: I find it interesting that this discussion predates some serious anti-carb literature that appears in the culture about a decade or more hence.

“Anyone can make up a story and say it is the past.”

—Loc 234

“Have you ever been paralysed?”
Toninho’s big brow eyes swelled. “I have the wisdom to know that one day I will be.”

—Loc 462: An interesting life philosophy

“É preciso terno?”
Such was a tourist joke. In Brazil a suit was never necessary.

—Loc 808

Fletch gathered in the stern line. “Not in the S.S. Coitus Interruptus.”

—Loc 1300

Colombo, a sparkling clean tearoom noted for its great pastry

—Loc 1958: Who can resist a pastry reference?

The sound is overpowering. It is perhaps the maximum sound the earth and sky can accept without cracking, without breaking into fragments to move with it before dissipating into dust.

—Loc 2287: Mcdonald does a really good job describing the music of Brazil throughout. I particularly liked this passage.

…cheering on the biggest and most amazing human spectacle in the world except war.

—Loc 2426: a nice description of Carnival; apparently one so apt that he uses it multiple times.

Then he remembered his other ear had slipped into the personality of a tomato.

—Loc 2560: great description of an ear after a brutal fight

“Fletch, you always seem to be someplace you’re not supposed to be, doing something you’re not supposed to be doing.”
“Got any other news for me?”

—Loc 2684: Quintessential Fletch description and rejoinder

Fletch had come back to life. He was in a closed coffin.

—Loc 2939: A great pair of sentences just by themselves, but they also have a nice parallelism to where Fletch is within relation to the plot at the time.

(a waitress to Fletch) “Have an accident?”
“No, thanks. Just had one.”

—Loc 2979: Witty dialogue

“I was worried about you. I’ve been stood up for dinner before, often, but seldom for breakfast.”
“Not very nice of me.”
“It’s okay. I had breakfast anyway.”

—Loc 2986: Witty dialogue

“I mean, everyone needs a vacation from life. Don’t you agree?”
“A vacation from reality.”

—Loc 3068

“She fell out of her cradle. She’s enjoying a few moments crawling around the floor.”

—Loc 3097: great description of a grown woman

“I learned some things.”
“I’d love to know what.”
“Oh, that the past asserts itself. That the dead can walk.” Fletch thought of the small carved stone frog that had been under his bed. “That the absence of symbols can mean as much as their presence.”

—Loc 3100

Edgar Arthur Tharp, Junior

—Loc 3106: Fletch indicates that this artist will be part of his future purpose; The name reappears in Confess, Fletch as a tangential part of the plot.

Intersting words
  • scudding
  • the sails luffed
  • sibilant
  • calunga doll
  • bateria of drums
  • maté
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📖 61.0% done with Carioca Fletch (Fletch #7) by Gregory McDonald

📖 61.0% done with Carioca Fletch (Fletch #7) by Gregory McDonald

The plot seems to have slowed down significantly since the opening, but is just finally getting moving again.

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📖 14.0% done with Carioca Fletch (Fletch #7) by Gregory McDonald

📖 14.0% done with Carioca Fletch (Fletch #7) by Gregory McDonald

An interesting start with a nice dash of the cultural part of what it means to be a Brazilian to set the stage of what is to come in the book. The reader is nicely made to feel the cultural clash of American and Brazilian along with the frustration Fletch surely feels.

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Book Review: Confess, Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald

Confess, Fletch by Gregory Mcdonald (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
Confess, Fletch Book Cover Confess, Fletch
Fletch #2 (in the stories' chronological order: #6)
Gregory Mcdonald
Fiction; Mystery, Thriller & Suspense
Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
1976
Kindle e-book
192
Amazon / Overdrive

When Fletch stumbles upon the nude corpse of a beautiful young woman in his borrowed Boston apartment, he must match wits with the determined Inspector Francis Xavier Flynn as he tries to clear his name and find the real killer. Winner of the Edgar Award.

I had originally meant to read all the Fletch canon in chronological order from the perspective of the stories’ timeline. Unfortunately the immediate availability of the books threw a small curve into the process, so I’ve read this slightly out of order. Doing so has thrown me as I’ve been under the assumption that Fletch was generally a journalist working for the same Los Angeles paper the entire time.

The Order I’ve read the series in so far

Fletch Won #1
Fletch and the Widow Bradley #3
Fletch, Too #2
Confess Fletch #6
Carioca Fletch #5

At the opening of this he’s going by the name of Peter Fletcher which was quirky, even knowing how much I.M. dislikes his given names, and he seemed to have a far more Italian flair and a rich man’s flâneur attitude toward life compared with his previous character. Gone was the ne’er-do-well under employed hero and in his place was a well-to-do more suave man. What was I missing/forgetting from the intervening books? It wasn’t until about halfway through the book that the Fletch character I’ve come to enjoy popped out of the woodwork as himself.

In stark contrast to the almost no plot line of Fletch, Too, which I found disappointing, this one starts off like a shot. The opening scene of the story starts out with Fletch in an apartment swap and calling the police to report a body of a dead woman in the flat which he’s staying for the next few weeks.

“This is the Police Business phone.”
“Isn’t murder police business?”
“You’re supposed to call Emergency with a murder.”
“I think the emergency is over.”
“I mean, I don’t even have a tape recorder on this phone.”
“So talk to your boss. Make a recommendation.”

The following morning he’s on the hunt for the missing art collection of an Italian nobleman who’s been kidnapped and presumed dead.

What follows is a nicely developed set of A and B plot lines that rival even those of the original Fletch. (N.B. I’ve still yet to reread the original, so it’s been over 25 years that I’m making this comparison.) The characters are great and the dialogue as witty and snarky as ever. This is Fletch as it was meant to be. Reading this after Fletch, Too brings my faith back for Mcdonald’s work.

I just hope the rest are just this good.

The added benefit is that apparently Mcdonald spun off the Frances Xavier Flynn character from this work into another series, and he’s a sufficiently complex and interesting enough character that I’m glad the Fletch odyssey isn’t really over once I’m done with these eleven.

From a time period perspective, I’ll again note, as I did for Fletch and the Widow Bradley, that this book (written in 1976) had some very progressive views about gay/homosexual lifestyle that I wouldn’t have expected.

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